CHINESE people have come to the defence of an American high schooler who inadvertently got herself caught up in an internet meltdown about cultural appropriation.
On April 23, Keziah Daum, who has no Chinese roots, received heavy criticism in her native United States after sharing images on Twitter of her wearing a Chinese qipao dress (also known as a cheongsam) to her school prom.
— Keziah (@daumkeziah) April 22, 2018
People were quick to accuse the 18-year-old of cultural appropriation for wearing the traditional garb when she herself has no Chinese heritage.
One post from Jeremy Lam, reading, “My culture is NOT your goddamn prom dress,” went viral, receiving over 179,000 likes and almost 42,000 retweets and sparking an online debate over whether it’s ever okay to wear another culture’s attire.
My culture is NOT your goddamn prom dress. https://t.co/vhkNOPevKD
— Jeremy Lam (@jere_bare) April 27, 2018
But many Chinese netizens, both in China and around the world, have come to Daum’s defence calling it cultural “appreciation” rather than “appropriation.”
there’s a diff between cultural appropriation & cultural appreciation. fine line. but it’s there. cut @daumkeziah some slack. stop saying that you’re “speaking for chinese people”. i’m chinese & i didn’t take issue with her wearing a qipao (also known as a cheongsam) to her prom.
— lainey ♪ ♥ 레이니 (@laineyx) May 2, 2018
“The girl in a cheongsam looks beautiful. Isn’t it a good thing that our culture is appreciated by people from other countries?” one user said on Weibo, a Chinese Twitter-like social media platform.
“I really don’t understand why those foreigners on Twitter are so irritated,” another Weibo user wrote. “If foreign people cannot wear Chinese outfits, they’d better not eat Chinese food anymore either.”
“Culture has no borders,” one wrote. “There is no problem, as long as there is no malice or deliberate maligning. Chinese cultural treasures are worth spreading all over the world.”
This is, however, only a handful of posts on a topic on which seemingly millions of people passed comment.
While many welcomed Daum’s “appreciation”, others clearly did not.
Wearing qipao to prom is your 1st mistake, all your friends doing that pose is the 2nd, and not apologizing nor admitting to your mistake is the 3rd. A national dress in China, not a pretty dress to wear to prom. Don’t say you appreciate the culture when you’re doing the opposite https://t.co/3bY5KxQiQ8
— anqi🇨🇳 (@xanqiue) April 28, 2018
Daum refused to back down despite the widespread criticism, leaving her original post up and defending her decision in a follow-up Tweet.
“To everyone causing so much negativity: I mean no disrespect to the Chinese culture,” she wrote.
“I’m simply showing my appreciation to their culture. I’m not deleting my post because I’ve done nothing but show my love for the culture.”
Additional reporting by Reuters.